Wang Li-ling looks for materials to collect at the waste storage that can be used for her dress in Taipei, Taiwan. Picture: Ann Wang/Reuters
Wang Li-ling looks for materials to collect at the waste storage that can be used for her dress in Taipei, Taiwan. Picture: Ann Wang/Reuters

Lights! Models! Garbage! Taiwan designer turns waste into fashion

By Reuters Time of article published Jan 5, 2021

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Ann Wang

Taipei - Inspiration for high fashion can come from strange places. For one Taiwanese designer, it's upcycling old wires and bolts from the power industry.

Wang Li-ling, 36, scours dumps, picking up old bits of metal and wires from Taiwan's main electricity supplier to add extra flair to her clothes.

"For example, there's quite a lot of material from Taipower that they have phased out," Wang told Reuters in her studio.

"These materials have been used for more than 20 or 30 years. At least more than 10 years. So their colour or the mottled feeling they give you is different from new material."

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The wires and other materials are stitched onto dresses and other items of clothing, giving them a futuristic feeling, and drawing a warm reception at a fashion show in Taipei on Friday.

"Actually, it is my first time seeing a Taiwan fashion designer turning recycled things into new ideas," said Taiwanese lifestyle influencer Andrew Chen, who was at the show.

Staff cleans and paints a salvaged spring to be used as an element for dressmaking at Wang Li-ling's studio in Taipei, Taiwan. Picture: Ann Wang/Reuters

"Everyone knows the fashion industry is about fast fashion. And it is wasteful. It expanded my horizons today that I saw how to use old materials to create something new, and then present it with creativity."

A popular destination for trendy tourists in pre-coronavirus times, Taiwan has an up-and-coming fashion scene, whose designers are starting to make an impact on the world stage.

Wang Li-ling inspects a dress at her studio in Taipei, Taiwan. Picture: Ann Wang/Reuters

With many global events shuttered or moved online due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Taiwan put on Taipei Fashion Week in October featuring live shows, a testament to the island's successful efforts to control the spread of the illness.

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